The Lebanese Artist Who Introduced Abstract Art To The Middle East

In the world of art, it is believed that the late Lebanese painter and sculptor, Saloua Raouda Choucair, brought abstract art to the region. She tirelessly created art until the age of 100 and left an impactful legacy to inspire all art lovers in the Middle East.

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Born in 1916 in Ain El-Mreisseh, Beirut, artist Saloua Raouda Choucair lived through the ups and downs of Lebanon. She reveled in the golden age when Beirut was known as the Paris of the Middle East. She also saw her city being destroyed and ripped apart by the civil war.

Choucair’s Two = One was damaged when a bomb hit her building leaving holes and glass shards in the painting.

During her time, she was infatuated with the future, rather than feeling nostalgic as people tend to be nowadays.

In an interview with Tate Modern, her daughter Hala Choucair (also a painter) said that her mother “was always motivated. She wasn’t sick of modern times. She wasn’t nostalgic. She believed in the future.”

Choucair was inspired by the developing world, new designs, and was moved by both Western art and Islamic art.

In the 1940s, she attended École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and worked in the studio of painter and sculptor Fernand Léger.

According to Hala, something during Choucair’s stay in Paris changed her and shaped the way she did art.

In an interview, Choucair also reflected on her time touring in Cairo, where she became aware of Islamic architecture and Arabic art.

Like many brilliant artists, she became most well known late in her life. At the age of 97, while battling Alzheimer’s, her work traveled from Beirut to making its British debut at London’s Tate Moden, Britain’s national contemporary art gallery of the Tate group.

According to Art News, Choucair’s work has been featured in exhibitions at Western institutions in recent years.

Her art appeared in galleries such as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Haus der Kunst in Munich, the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and the Centre Pompidou, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

On what would have been her 102nd birthday, Google made a tribute to the late artist. This month will mark the anniversary of her 104th birthday as she continues to live on and survive through her life’s work.

Saloua Raouda Choucair was an abstract art’s influencer. She’s still recognized for her artistic brilliancy in Europe, and even by Google that made it a point to pay her tribute.

In Lebanon, however, little has been spoken about this Lebanese artistic genius and her remarkable contribution to the world of art. Today, The961 makes it a point to give her some duly Lebanese recognition.

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